Vietnamese police detained at least 15 people during a crackdown today on anti-China protesters who defied an order to stop an unprecedented series of rallies over a territorial dispute.
Just minutes after the protest began, plainclothes agents moved in to force the demonstrators onto two waiting buses and drove them away.
The rally was the 11th since early June to protest against Chinese actions in the tense South China Sea, the scene of long-standing tensions between the neighboring countries over rival territorial claims.
Two protests in July were forcibly dispersed by police after talks between Hanoi and Beijing, but subsequent rallies were allowed to go ahead until authorities in the Vietnamese capital on Thursday issued a stop order.
Overtly political demonstrations are rare in authoritarian Vietnam but analysts said the gatherings initially served Hanoi’s purpose in expressing displeasure with Beijing.
One sign compared China to the Nazis of World War II Germany. “Danger. Stop China Chinazi,” it said.
Protests began after tensions flared in May when Vietnam said Chinese marine surveillance vessels had cut the exploration cables of an oil survey ship inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.